It's Dandelion Season in 
Central New York


Dandelion Carpet
Although they are unpopular in lawns, the dandelions thrive in fields this time of year.  The color is really spectacular

You have just cut your lawn and loped off those nasty yellow heads. Then in a couple of days your lawn is a sea of yellow. What would spring be like without dandelions? The dandelion was originally brought over from Europe to be cultivated for the root, leaves and floret. Now another whole industry, weed killers and weed tools, have developed to get rid of it. You can cut the hollow tube supporting the head off and it will generate a new one. You can try to dig out the roots, but they extend so deep that there is always some left and a new one pops up. If you leave it alone it will develop fuzzy seeds that can be scattered for miles by the wind. This prolific plant is a marvel of genetic engineering and seems to processes some kind of  intelligence.


The dandelion heads look like eerie space alien pods as they
prepare for launch with the next wind.

The dandelion’s leaves, roots and flower are most edible if collected when they are very young in the early spring before they become very bitter. The root of the common dandelion contains a substance used as a laxative; the root is also roasted and ground as a substitute for coffee. The leaves are used for salad greens, and the flowers are sometimes used for making wine. Kids love to blow on them when the seeds are formed. They look like tiny parachutes. You can also make bracelets out of the stems. The flower of the common dandelion is not a single flower but rather a composite made up of a large number of very small flowers.

The dandelion head is a composite of over 300 tiny florets in a circular array. Each flower will produce a seed.

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Composite flowers are one of the largest groups of flowering plants, with about 20,000 species. The common name refers to the clustering of the flowers into compact heads so that an entire cluster resembles a single flower, as in the familiar sunflower or dandelion.

The composite family contains nearly 10 percent of all the flowering plants. Lettuce is the most important crop; other notable food plants are artichoke, endive, chicory, and tarragon. Sunflower and safflower are important sources of vegetable oils, and some members such as guayule have been studied as potential sources of rubber. Weedy members of the family include dandelion, thistle, cocklebur, and ragweed, which is a major source of the airborne pollen that affects hay fever sufferers. Horticultural important members of the composite family include marigold, dahlia, zinnia, daisy, cosmos, chrysanthemum, tansy, and aster.

Dandelions clone, i.e. they derive from another dandelion by an asexual (nonsexual) reproductive process. Simple organisms such as the bacteria and blue-green algae, a number of other simple organisms such as most protozoa, many other algae, and some yeasts, reproduce by cloning. Certain higher organisms, for example, flatworms and plants such as the dandelion reproduce by cloning.